With Shipt, Grocery Shopping Takes a Village
The same-day grocery delivery platform works with local shoppers to deliver to your door.
Shipt isn’t reinventing the wheel—it’s taking it in a new direction. Countering the growing set of “e-tailer” startups driven by bots and AI, this grocery delivery platform is built on something else altogether: people. (Real ones.) Shipt brings together a network of vetted personal shoppers and grocery markets to offer personalized, same-day delivery to time-strapped people across the country. Headquartered in Birmingham, AL and rapidly expanding coast-to-coast, the service operates much like the Ubers and Lyfts of the world: shoppers are hired on a contract basis to hand-deliver fresh groceries to their local communities. The result? You can actually meet the person who picked out your produce. You can shake their hand and share a conversation. Quiddity talked with Shipt’s Director of Brand and Product Marketing Sheila Grady about people-first business, the communal shopping experience, and making time for what matters most.
For a relatively new industry like grocery delivery services, how important is your brand’s heritage in attracting customers?
It’s only fitting that Shipt originated in the aisles of a grocery store. In our hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, our founder Bill Smith and his wife found themselves juggling their newborn and toddler while attempting to get their weekly shopping done. As he stood in the store, he said to himself “there must be a better way.” And the rest, as they say, is history.
At Shipt, we put people first. Our sense of hospitality and respect are more than just a nod to our roots as a Southern company. These values are fundamental to how we operate, and as we grow and expand – we’re now on the verge of being available coast-to-coast – it’s especially important for us to maintain our brand personality. Being a trustworthy, dependable partner helping to make busy lives easier is critical to who we are and what we believe. It’s evident in our commitment to our retail partners, in our passionate shoppers, and most of all in the highly personalized experience we try to provide to every member. When we say “people-first,” we mean it, and we intend for all members of the Shipt community to feel valued daily.
If you claimed one other brand as an ancestor, which would it be? What other brands, strategies or consumer trends have influenced your own company?
Not surprisingly, we get a ton of inspiration from grocery retailers, who are famous for their focus on customer service. We work with these retailers every day and are always energized by their commitment to going above and beyond for their customers and members – placing a high premium on customer experience in particular. They build relationships through their day-to-day services, which we work to do with our shoppers and members as well.
How do consumers generally learn more about your brand’s heritage?
Every time we launch into a new market, we do so with an emphasis on what makes Shipt special – namely, our incredible shoppers. We do this by telling their stories (shoppers are the heartbeat of our company) and through our company’s social channels – our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter profiles are filled with examples of our shoppers living the #shiptlife. In our marketing campaigns, we often feature real shoppers, with the goal of helping members to feel like they really know the people delivering their groceries. To do this, we stay in constant communication with our shoppers – hearing about their experiences, getting their feedback, and incorporating them into the fabric of our brand. Our exceptional people-first service is an absolutely critical part of our business.
What details of your founding story have resonated most with consumers?
Convenience! We’re giving people time back in their day, and allowing our members to spend more time with their friends and family, and do something impactful with their saved time. The Shipt origin story is relatable – it’s peoples’ own.
Which social media platform, if any, are you focusing on to share your company’s story?
Facebook is an integral part of sharing the Shipt story and building our shopper community. We share testimonials from members, recipe tips and tricks, launch announcements, company updates, and, of course, shopper stories. In addition, we use what we call the Shopper Lounge – our national group has become one of the biggest private groups on Facebook, and many individual metros have set up their own shopper groups to help stay up to date.
Can you identify one key person involved in your company’s history, and why this person is so notable for consumers?
Regardless of whether our members know Bill’s founding story, it’s their story. We have families, we are all busy, and we can all relate to the feeling of never having enough time in the day. This is a shared experience, and it’s rare that it’s one that our members can’t relate to it.
How has the growth around grocery delivery services changed your ability to communicate your brand’s history?
The growth around grocery delivery services has made the need for a clear brand vision more important than ever. As consumers are faced with multiple grocery delivery options, especially in bigger markets, a strong, identifiable brand is critical in this decision-making process. Being authentic is at the core of who we are. We’re fanatical about providing personal, high-touch service that goes above and beyond. We make members feel like we’re a service that cares about who they are, and what they need.
How might you frame your company’s heritage differently for a first-time customer versus someone who has used grocery delivery services for years?
We often say that our shoppers “bring the magic.” Our members have magical experiences because we bring on the very best shoppers – our members know that shoppers are just as choosy as they are when picking produce and filling their homes with their favorite products. Whether it’s their first order or they’re seasoned Shipt members, our goal is to always fill members’ homes with the food and household essentials they love from the stores they trust. Through our easy-to-use app, friendly shoppers, and a commitment to exceptional service, Shipt simplifies lives and helps save time for what matters most.
Frances Thomas is a writer based in New York City. She recently graduated from NYU.